Kinect is Microsoft’s gimmick, their ‘thing’, if you will, the hook that differentiates them from other platforms; like a guy with an unusual hat. Now some people like the look of the hat and some people think it looks plain stupid, there’ll always be differing opinions, but one thing’s for sure MS think they look damn good in that hat and they want to have it permanently sewn to their head. Ok, so that analogy kind of tripped over at the end there but you can see where I’m coming from, MS want Kinect to be a permanent part of their Xbox ‘ecosystem’, whether you like it or not, and this could spell disaster.
Price, cost, rate, amount, expense, charge, however you put it, you cannot underestimate the importance of it in the video game industry. And it’s here that we can begin to see a problem that could quite possibly lead to MS shooting themselves in the foot. History has shown that it’s not always the most technologically advanced console that comes out on top; price is a huge factor and one that has never been more important due to economic circumstances. Although there are exceptions as PS3 has been consistently more expensive throughout its life but has managed to sell at a greater rate than the cheaper 360.
So, assuming that MS want Kinect to be a totally integrated experience in their Xbox brand, it makes sense that they may choose to include it as standard with the upcoming hardware. This is where the all important factor of price comes into play. Should Sony, manage to get their new console ready in a close timeframe to the ‘nextbox’ there will be two, probably similar, consoles on the shelves with two very different price tags. The inclusion of Kinect (or a newer version) would almost definitely swell the asking price, unless of course MS are willing to take a monumentally massive hit on short term profits, which, given their current disappointments with Surface and Windows 8 phones as well as stagnant share prices, might not be an option.
Kinect cost $150/£130 on release, even if MS manage to reduce production costs on the device it could still bloat up the cost of a new Xbox console by $100/£80, which could even increase if the specs are enhanced. All Sony would then have to do is make the 4th Playstation specs a little better, the price a little lower, keep online free and suddenly they have a console that looks very appealing to the average consumer, unless of course the consumer loves unusual hats… a lot.
It’s hard for me to picture a way in which forcing Kinect as standard with a new Xbox could end with anything but misery for MS, even with another $500m marketing campaign. It’s my hope that Kinect or Kinect 2 remains an optional extra so that the 3rd Xbox can be competitive on its own gaming merits and keep Sony on their toes next generation.